Ben Carson turns down position in Trump cabinet

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Detroit native Dr. Ben Carson has decided not to join Republican Donald Trump’s cabinet, although he will continue in his adviser role to the president-elect.

“Dr. Carson has decided he is most effective for the president-elect outside of the administration, instead of taking a position at any cabinet level,” spokesman and business manager Armstrong Williams said Tuesday.

Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, had been mentioned as a candidate to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the U.S. Department of Education. Williams said Carson was offered “the lay of the land.”

“No particular agency. Whatever he wanted. The president-elect made it clear he wanted him in his cabinet,” Williams told The Detroit News.

Posts at the departments of Education or HHS would have fit Carson’s strengths, but “nothing formal was offered because he never showed interest,” he said.

Trump’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Carson will continue to advise Trump about issues he cares about such as affordable care, education, over-regulation by the federal government and national security, among others, Williams said.

“Those things he will be involved in giving his input, making his recommendations, also with the freedom to continue speaking to the American people unfettered, without having to consider the fact that he works for the administration,” he said.

“He’d rather do it as a free person, rather than always having to tow the administration line.”

Carson endorsed Trump after ending his own run for the GOP presidential nomination just before the Detroit debate in March. He has never held public office or worked for the government. In recent months, Carson was a top surrogate for the Trump campaign and most recently stumped for him in Michigan on Oct. 29.

On Election Day, Carson took to Facebook to discourage his supporters from writing in his name for president on their ballots: “Please don’t waste your vote. Please reconsider and make sure you cast a vote that really will count. Thank you. We must save our country.”

Carson is currently serving as a vice chair of Trump’s transition team, contributing from his home in Florida, Williams said.

Carson also intends to continue his work with the nonpartisan group called My Faith Votes, which encourages Christians to educate themselves about political candidates and to vote.

mburke@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8736